Nano-Threat

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It turns out that in the nanotech scare arena, "gray goo" is out and "green goo" is in. Gray goo is the scenario popularized in Michael Crichton's novel Prey, in which tiny self-replicating nano-machines take over the world. In the green goo scenario, the tiny self-replicating nano-machines are organic.

"With nanobiotech, researchers have the power to create completely new organisms that have never existed on Earth," said the ETC release accompanying its report.

Yeah, new organisms like dogs, mules, and domesticated rice plants, only made through a different method. Makes your blood run cold, doesn't it?

Meanwhile, InstaPundit points out a new study which shows that Americans are generally optimistic about nanotechnology, despite the fact that they have no clue what nanotechnology is.

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  1. It amazes me that so many people who claim to be of an intellectual stripe put so much weight in Crichton’s “cautionary tales” even though we have yet to be threatened by runaway robots, extraterrestrial pathogens; reconstituted dinosaurs, or android gunslingers. The guy writes pulp. Nano has been set dressing in science fiction for decades now. Then this hack rolls up and decides it’s a threat.
    I expect anti-pot-style scare films beating the drum against the menace of nano.

  2. There are scenarios in which maliciously designed self-replicating machines could be a real problem. But such machines, like biological organisms, would be limited by their “food” supply if nothing else; they need to find the necessary materials to replicate themselves, and an energy source to fuel the replication. Also, to grow to a serious mass, they’d have to be designed against cannibalizing each other. Accomplishing that by design would be a difficult task; its happening by accident would be still more unlikely.

  3. But such machines, like biological organisms, would be limited by their “food” supply if nothing else…

    What’ll it be, garym – the red pill, or the blue? 🙂

  4. Well, one of the main limitations on nano growth would be programming. They are, biotech or not, machines, not a rampant all consuming moss.

  5. I would agree with you, except that green goo *has* been created in the lab, accidentally in the past. Of course, the particular form of green goo would only affect mice, and it wasn’t released into the general population, but still. That Australian experiment still gives me goosebumps.

  6. “Yeah, new organisms like dogs, mules, and domesticated rice plants, only made through a different method. Makes your blood run cold, doesn’t it?”

    Well, I suppose that would depend on what’s “new” about them, and what “different methods” were used, wouldn’t it?

    GMOs, nano, cloning – nothing discredits a pundit in my eyes more than making simplistic, blanket statements about these complicated, multifaceted issues. And that goes for both sides.

  7. “With nanobiotech, researchers have the power to create completely new organisms that have never existed on Earth,” said the ETC release accompanying its report.

    How much longer before God is proven to be a big, cruel hoax?

  8. “How much longer before God is proven to be a big, cruel hoax?”

    How “MUCH” longer…? I thought we started piling dirt on Jehova’s/Allah’s/Yahwah’s casket when Darwin published “The Origin of Species.”

    We could prove the non-existance of “God” until we are blue in the face, and it wouldn’t get us very far. There will always be people who can’t bring themselves to contemplate a universe WITHOUT a omnipotent, omniscient , superbeing who rains down judgement and damnation upon those they don’t like this week.

    Sad, but true.

  9. Loved your last point Hanah. That make me laugh out loud. “So-and-so thinks this, even though so-and-so doesn’t know anything about it.” That was a good one!

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